‘Masters of Sex’ Season 1 Episode 11 Recap: “Phallic Victories”


Haas has come to his last day at the hospital, and gives a very gracious speech to the other doctors and nurses. Libby drops by to say goodbe to him too. She tells Haas she feels responsible. “There’s no repairing my relationship with Bill,” he says, and a (metaphorical!) anvil crashes through the ceiling behind him. Must the foreshadowing always be delivered in this way, sigh. He feigns being totally happy about things, though he doesn’t have to try too hard because he’s in love with Gini, and tells Libby so.

He’s staying over at the house, but steps out in the mornings to hide from the children. He comes back in as a “visitor” to eat breakfast later. And he even feels comfortable enough to offer to stay with Gini’s children while she goes to a medical conference to Dr. DePaul. But Haas’ idyll with the kids is interrupted by Gini’s ex-husband George. Relations are at first frosty but they end up both hanging out watching television and bickering about shaving technique. Ultimately Haas confides that he intends to propose. Gini’s ex says he doesn’t think Gini will agree, but Haas points out she could not follow him out of state without marrying him. George, angry, at first says he won’t permit Haas and Gini to take the kids out of state, but then backs off. Neither of them appear to know how creepy it is that they’ve negotiated her future without bothering to ask her, but oh well.

Gini, off with Dr. DePaul, is still playing Miss Manners. Frankly Gini’s kind of overstepping, she seems to have the idea that you should be nice to everybody you meet on a bus and ends up, through her niceness, looping DePaul into consulting on the mole of one woman on the bus. The bus, naturally, breaks down and the three women end up staying in a hotel room with just one bed. A vibrating bed. Not content to just let that joke be what it is, Gini says, “I can’t get away from vibrators, can I.”

They end up missing the conference altogether, actually. Which, DePaul points out, she wouldn’t have done if her study had enough money for her train. She is so angry she goes on a small rant about how men are given the advantage. Gini, who is really still annoying me this episode because she’s behaving like a cipher for bad writer priorities than like a person, says DePaul must have “penis envy.” DePaul, now also performing for bad writer priorities, rants more about the privilege of having another kind of genitalia. Gini tells her there are sororities as well as fraternities and they go hang out with the doctors’ wives. She turns it into a marketing opportunity for DePaul’s pap smear study.

Oh, and then she and DePaul have a heart-to-heart on the way back about how actually DePaul doesn’t have penis envy, she has cancer! Cervical cancer, actually, but a hysterectomy did not stop its advance and now it’s in DePaul’s liver, progressed to stage four. “I’m going to have to hand the work off,” says DePaul, and of course it’s Gini she’s going to give it to. Deus ex cancer, I think that’s called.

Libby, meanwhile, has volunteered to take Gini’s seat in the office and answer phones and Masters somehow agrees. Though mostly he does that because he’s so strapped for help without Gini around. Hmm. Wonder if she’ll go back to him by the end of the episode? Libby’s determined to be the new caretaker but Masters, charming guy that he is, barely knows she’s there. He keeps hearing Gini’s voice instead of Jane’s or Libby’s. And he’s too focussed on getting everyone excited about his research, so he’s gonna start presenting on that subject of eternal male interest: penis size.

Libby and Jane go through the records and notice that one study subject often has the same partner, “Ulysses.” These subjects are Masters and Johnson themselves, fairly obviously, but Libby’s so intrigued by the case of course she starts questioning Bill about them, largely innocently. “Did they fall in love?” she asks, and he answers, “That answer lay outside our area of inquiry.” But he continues to be absorbed in his fantasy that Gini’s still around, commenting on everything he does. It’s really kind of creepy. The “best” part, as in the worst part, is when he fantasizes that she likes Ethan better because his penis is bigger, aye caramba this show is literal. Libby tries to comfort him that night by telling him she likes the way he feels “inside her.” Oh dear.

When Gini gets back home Haas lays out his plan. He’ll support her, she can go back to school, he’ll help her do what she’s always wanted. She’s obviously seriously considering it. And then she sings “You Don’t Know Me” in case we didn’t get that she’s nonetheless conflicted.

One more episode left.